From the age of 16, when he started his first business, Alex Charfen has had entrepreneurship in his blood. At the age of 21, he started investing in real estate, but he got caught up by the Great Recession and went bankrupt in 2007. Within a year, he’d started another business and become a liquid millionaire in just 12 months.
Today Alex mentors and coaches other entrepreneurs from all walks of life including e-commerce, real estate, yoga practitioners and business owners. His specialty is helping busy business owners create systems that allow them to take a step back from their business to reinvest in themselves.
And he does this by walking them through a super simple time study.
You’re Not a Unicorn
More than any other industry, real estate is an expert-based business. Real estate investors see themselves as the experts who go out and purchase properties. The problem that investors run into is that they think of themselves as unicorns, and that reflects in the way they manage their business.
If you invite an investor to tell you about their business, they’ll rattle off how many doors they have, their cash flow, and how much capital they need to borrow for their next project. When the investor talks about stepping away someday, and you say, “How many people on your team are helping you?”, they’ll worry that you’re already planning on replacing them. They’ll insist that they're uniquely special and that no one can be hired to do what they do.
Not only do real estate investors, more than any other industry that Alex works with, truly believe that they’re a unicorn in the business world, but they don’t realize that it’s the biggest limitation in their business. 100% of entrepreneurs went into business for themselves to create freedom, but they’re working 9 a.m. to 10 p.m. seven days a week. All because they can’t bring themselves to delegate the work that they do to another capable member of their team.
Why You Need a Time Study
If you truly want to step outside of your business someday, and I mean truly, honestly desire it above the 16-hour days you keep putting in. Plus you really want time freedom to live the life you built your business for, then you need to create a time study.This is Alex’s favorite technique for shining a light on what you’re really doing all the time.
For two weeks you’re going to walk around with a piece of paper and every fifteen minutes you’re going to write down exactly what you’re doing. This is one of those things that Alex gets a lot of immediate pushback.
“Paper? Come on, are you serious?”
Nearly every entrepreneur who goes through this process has the same reaction. But by the third day of the process, they’ve already become more efficient, and by the fifth day they’re wondering why they wasted so much of their time on menial tasks. At the end of the two weeks, they go through all of their tasks and they start marking them “tactical” or “strategic”. And this is where the magic happens.
Creating a Core Team
Once you’ve created the data around how you spend your time, you’re able to write a job description based on the tactical tasks you used to spend your day bouncing around doing. Then you can start delegating tasks and building a team that can help you eventually get on the passenger seat side of your business.
As soon as you bring in that first hire to take over some of your tactical tasks, you’ll find yourself with a lot more time on your hands. This is exactly where you want to be so that you can focus on company strategy. Every 90 days, you’re going to go through the time study again, labeling tasks, and then identifying which ones you can create a job description around. The first two weeks of every quarter, you’ll spend time taking a good look at how you spend your time, and eventually you’ll be able to step outside your business because you’ve offloaded tasks that don’t require your attention. That’s when you’ll finally be able to focus more on yourself.
Reinvest In Yourself
There’s this common misconception in the entrepreneurial world that it’s all about pain and sacrifice. It doesn’t help that there are also motivational speakers who insist that you have to be in this highly-charged cortisol state as an entrepreneur. It’s almost as if you’re going to get through your day on an appetite of excitement, rage, and fear. Alex prefers a much gentler approach that relies on lowering your stress levels.
If you had more time, where would you invest it? For most entrepreneurs, Alex says they start reinvesting in their personal lives. They start getting into shape, hiring dieticians, having regular massages, and even getting some EMDR therapy to work through personal issues. If you plan on going from six figures to eight, nine, or beyond, then you need to fortify yourself. When you create systems and processes around yourself, you’re going to protect your time and energy so you can ultimately reinvest in yourself.
Don’t fall into the entrepreneurial trap that says that you’re indispensable. That kind of mindset will wreck your work/life balance. Alex’s strategy of using a time study to identify tactical and strategic tasks so that you can offload the tactical tasks is absolutely genius.
Having a mentor stand outside your business and look in is an invaluable way of figuring out what needs to go. If you’re ready to scale up, and you need some fresh eyes on your real estate business, go to JoshCantwellCoaching.com.
Listen to the full interview here.